Former Democratic candidate endorses Rachel Plakon for HD 36

Republican Rachel Plakon picked up a surprising endorsement from a former House District 36 candidate, Democrat Rod Joseph.

“She is hard-working,” Joseph said. “She was campaigning two days after she gave birth. That shows character.”

Plakon, for her part, embraced the support.

“I’m honored to have the support of combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient Lieutenant Rodenay Joseph for the District 36 General Election,” Plakon said.

“In today’s divided political environment, it’s increasingly important that candidates of both major parties build bridges across the aisle, where possible, with members of the other party. I appreciate Rod’s friendship and service to our nation.”

Joseph’s support came weeks after he lost the Democratic Primary in HD 36 to Deborah Poulalion, who took 70% of the vote to his 30%. Plakon won a Republican Primary in the district, securing 65% of the vote against two opponents. But Joseph felt Plakon’s win came “fair and square.”

He doesn’t believe the Democratic Primary went so smoothly. While he held back from criticizing Poulalion, he heavily criticized the Seminole County Democratic Party for failing to include him in a voter’s guide of candidates and other slights.

Joseph notably received criticism early in the race, as his home community of Fern Park lies outside of HD 36.

But he felt he was the victim of dirty tricks and favoritism on the part of the local party. “They spent $35,000 on that voter’s guide and many voters didn’t even know I was running,” he said. “But I am not the only candidate this happened to. They have their own favorites.”

While only 30% of Democratic Primary voters favored Joseph, his endorsement could prove consequential.

The district is one of the most closely divided in Florida in terms of voter registration. As of the close of voter rolls before the Aug. 23 Primary, the district has 3,500 more Democrats than Republicans, an advantage of 2.8 percentage points. In the 2020 Presidential Election, Democrat Joe Biden carried the district by 4.2 points, with 51.42% of the vote to Republican Donald Trump’s 47.23%.

But the Central Florida district, part of a new House map, contains much of the district now represented by GOP Rep. Scott Plakon, Rachel Plakon’s husband. It’s one of the seats Republicans remain confident they can hold on to at a time when Biden’s unpopularity could uplift GOP performance in legislative races across the country.

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